South Dakota and Western MN Adventures

western state park route

Our route and the places we visited in South Dakota and western MN

We took a few days to visit a friend of my hubby’s in South Dakota and then to hit a few state parks on the way home.  We had been hoping for a Yellowstone trip but the house project we’re in has us a bit freaked out money-wise, so we scaled back.  We had fun on the backroads of western MN – no Interstates on this trip, at least outside of the Cities.

First we met up with Bryce’s friend Jerod and met his whole extended family as they were celebrating the marriage of one of the nieces.  We also learned about potato guns.  🙂

Big Stone Lake State Park Sign

Big Stone Lake State Park is on the MN/SD border on humongous Big Stone Lake, source of the Minnesota River.

Campsite at Big Stone Lake

Our campsite at Big Stone Lake, complete with tablecloth and lake view. 🙂

Then we headed to Big Stone Lake State Park.  Everyone had shoved off after the Fourth and we had only about half a dozen neighbors in the very clean and quiet campground.  The beach was lovely and private and we took a dip; we marveled at the pelicans on huge Big Stone Lake.  Our campsite was right by the lake and we had a fantastic fire.  We also geocached with a loaner unit from the park and were successful at finding the cache, even though it was a bit prickly!

Monson Lake State Park sign

Monson Lake State Park is teeny but peaceful

Picnic shelter at Monson Lake State Park.

Both Monson Lake and Sibley State Parks had these granite buildings constructed during the WPA era by the Veterans’ Conservation Corps. I had not realized there was a separate arm of the Conservation Corps specifically for WWI vets. Look at those hand-hewn beams. Incredible.

Historic Marker at Monson Lake State Park

This historical marker was erected a Monson Lake by one of two survivors of an attack on the settlement during the 1862 US-Dakota Conflict. He was only about six at the time of the attack, and put up this marker almost 100 years ago. I found it eerie.

After our night at Big Stone Lake we headed out on MN-12 across fields of corn to find Monson Lake State Park, a diminutive little park that commemorates the site of an attack on settlers, one of the first of the US-Dakota Conflict in 1862.  The local community used to have yearly commemorations of the event that would draw thousands.

There was only one camper in the whole campground!  Two lovely lakes and a nice nature trail, combined with stately Veterans’ Conservation Corps constructed buildings, would have made this a peaceful place to camp.  We decided just to lunch and to move on to the next park for the night since they are very close to each other.

Sibley State Park sign

Sibley State Park is large with lots of activities.

Sibley State Park is much bigger than its cousin Monson Lake!  With two large campgrounds and several lakes and hiking/biking/horse trails, canoe and boat rentals, interpretive center, this park had a lot more for those who like to do activities.  We chose a wooded campsite since the lakeside area was really open and didn’t feel very private.  After a dip at the clean, boisterous beach we headed back, made some supper and then went out geocaching again!  This park kindly provided not only the coordinates to the Avian Adventure cache in the park, but also the coordinates to several nearby caches.  We even found a microcache.  Man, that was hard to spot!  Another delicious fire capped off the evening, and even though the state bird was being particularly active, it was still nice.

The state bird, a mosquito

The state bird 🙂

Overnight we got drowned by over an inch of rain.  Our tent was never so wet in our camping lives, but we were still staying dry on our blow up bed.  A low, consistent rumbling in the clouds made us fearful of a tornado so we exited the tent in the middle of the torrent to go to the bathroom building.  I, upon exiting the tent, thrust myself headfirst into a huge mud puddle.  YUCK!!  (It was wonderful to take a shower here at home after all that.)  Well, we figured out that it wasn’t a tornado after all so we went back to bed for a bit in the tent (on the dry island of the bed) and when all the rain was over we packed up and headed home as everything was so. so. wet.  I do have to say that it made it fast to pack up the car – just shove it all in and take care of it at home!

We drove home on US-12 through lots of picturesque little towns and did a little thrifting.  Since our trip was cut short we’re hoping to take some doggy-less time to head over and do a bit of antiquing in Stillwater, or perhaps go up to Little Falls to see the Lindbergh House.

World's Biggest Twine Ball

How could I forget the World’s Biggest Twine Ball?!